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Federal Legislative History

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For how to access additional materials not included in this guide, see the Congressional Documents guide. To find additional federal materials, see all our Federal Research Guides.

Finding Already Compiled Histories

The following resource pulls together documents related to particular legislation. It may be used as a way to begin research; however, it may or may not include every document related to the passage of a law and also may not include full-text documents. Some compiled legislative histories provide only citations or abstracts, so further research may be required to obtain the complete documents. For more information on where to find particular documents, see the Congressional Documents guide.

Legislative Histories of Select U.S. Laws on the Internet: Free Sources Law Librarians’ Society of Washington D.C.
Listed by Popular Name or Public Law number. Cites to legislative history documents available for free online, including those available through the Hathi Trust Digital Library.

The following resources pull together documents related to particular legislation. They may be used as a way to begin research; however, these resources may or may not include every document related to the passage of a law and also may not include full-text documents. Some compiled legislative histories provide only citations or abstracts, so further research may be required to obtain the complete documents. For more information on where to find particular documents, see the Congressional Documents guide.

U.S. Federal Legislative History Library
Available on HeinOnline. Under "Browse Databases by Name," select U.S. Federal Legislative History Library. From there, choose either U.S. Federal Legislative History Title Collection (Search or browse full-text legislative histories by Public Law number, Publication Title, or Popular Name) or Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories Database (Lists compilations for major laws, but the full text of documents may not be available through HeinOnline). For more information about these collections, take a look at the HeinOnline LibGuide.

ProQuest Congressional
Already compiled legislative histories from 1970 - present. Available only for bills enacted into law. Legislative histories may span across several Congressional sessions. PDF and full text coverage for items in the history depends on Jenkins' coverage of the specific document type. See the Using ProQuest Congressional page of this guide for more information.

The following resources pull together documents related to particular legislation. They may be used as a way to begin research; however, these resources may or may not include every document related to the passage of a law and also may not include full-text documents. Some compiled legislative histories provide only citations or abstracts, so further research may be required to obtain the complete documents. For more information on where to find particular documents, see the Congressional Documents guide.

CIS/Historical Index
Available on the library's Lexis computers. From the Content tab, select Statutes & Legislation > Legislative Histories > CIS/Historical Index.
Legislative histories by Congressional Information Service (CIS). Provides access to bibliographic records for six major bodies of congressional documents: U.S. Serial Set, including Reported Bill Numbers (1789-1984), Senate Executive Documents and Reports (1817-1969), U.S. Congressional Committee Hearings (1833-1970), Unpublished U.S. Senate Committee Hearings (1823-1984), Unpublished U.S. House Committee Hearings (1833-1976), and U.S. Congressional Committee Prints (1830-1969). Due to vendor restrictions some materials may be unavailable.

US - CIS/Index
Available on the library's Lexis computers. From the Content tab, select Statutes & Legislation > Legislative Histories > US - CIS/Index.
Legislative histories by Congressional Information Service (CIS) beginning with 1970. May include abstracts of hearings, reports, prints, and documents, but does not include full-text. See the other tabs of this guide to find resources for full-text documents. Due to changes in publisher, check currency of file before use. See database scope note for update on coverage.

The following resources pull together documents related to particular legislation. They may be used as a way to begin research; however, these resources may or may not include every document related to the passage of a law and also may not include full-text documents. Some compiled legislative histories provide only citations or abstracts, so further research may be required to obtain the complete documents. For more information on where to find particular documents, see the Congressional Documents guide.

U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News
Available on the library's Westlaw computers. From the Content types tab, select Statutes & Court Rules > Legislative History (located in the Tools & Resources box on the right) > U.S. Code Congressional & Administrative News.
USCCAN includes public laws, House and Senate reports, executive orders, and more. Also includes Legislative History Tables as printed in U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News. Coverage varies by type. See Scope Notes for more information.

US GAO Federal Legislative Histories
Librarians at Jenkins can search this file on Westlaw for a fee. Please contact Research Services at 215.574.1505 or research@jenkinslaw.org for more information.
From the Content types tab, select Statutes & Court Rules > Legislative History (located in the Tools & Resources box on the right) > U.S. GAO Federal Legislative Histories.
Coverage includes most public laws enacted between 1921 and 1995 and PL 104-191 (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). Legislative histories compiled by U.S. Government Accountability Office include the text of laws, bills, committee reports, Congressional Record documents, transcripts of hearings, and other documents.

Arnold & Porter Legislative Histories
Available on the library's Westlaw computers. From the Content types tab, select Statutes & Court Rules > Legislative History (located in the Tools & Resources box on the right) > Arnold & Porter Legislative Histories (located in the Tools & Resources box on the right). Select legislative histories on various acts, such as Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, and Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977 and 1990.

The following resource pulls together documents related to particular legislation. It may be used as a way to begin research; however, it may or may not include every document related to the passage of a law and also may not include full-text documents. Some compiled legislative histories provide only citations or abstracts, so further research may be required to obtain the complete documents. For more information on where to find particular documents, see the Congressional Documents guide.

U.S. Code Congressional & Administrative News (U.S.C.C.A.N.) West/Thomson Reuters
Separate catalog records for U.S. Code Congressional & Administrative News (1952-current), U.S. Code Congressional & Administrative Service (1951), and U.S. Code Congressional Service (1941-1950). Also available on the library's Westlaw computers. References select documents associated with an act. Does not provide complete lists of all legislative history materials. Includes select reports.

Legislative histories may also be available in printed volumes organized by call number or subject matter throughout the library, i.e. Collier on Bankruptcy (Legislative History - Appendix volumes in print). Search our catalog or check with a reference librarian.